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Perspectives on Payer Marketing: Part 2

Posted by Matt Breese on Jul 20, 2016

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Yesterday, we shared some perspectives on how the meaning of managed care payer marketing expands at a rapid pace and how some pharma manufacturers are reinventing their pull-through strategies. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Payer marketing

Marketing to payers (insurance carriers and other third parties, such as employers or unions), has taken on new importance post ACA implementation.

“Pharma marketing has truly, up to this point, been physician- or provider-focused and consumer-focused,” says Zoe Dunn, co-founder and principal of Hale Advisors, a digital marketing and communications consultancy out of Kingston, N.Y. “Payer marketing has always been important, but that is the avenue that is going to become more and more critical.”

In addition to the impact of the ACA, pharma marketing must also meet the challenge of persuading stakeholders, especially payers, of the value of their products at a time when the marketplace is increasingly crowded with generics. Payers need to hear an economic argument about why there is value in covering a specific drug, rather than accelerating generic penetration and reducing pricing benchmarks. If your drug is the only one that can cure a particular disease, the economic argument is less critical, albeit still an important component when considering the payer’s need to make a profit.

“What makes pharmaceuticals so different is that you have someone paying for it who needs economic and outcome evidence. You have somebody prescribing who needs clinical evidence, and you have someone who’s taking it who doesn’t want to buy it in the first place,” says Wes Wilkes vice president of New York-based Interbrand Health.

Many pharma marketers have answered the challenge by expanding their offerings to include health-based services, such as providing educational materials and patient-support programs. This approach adds value for providers and patients, and may make a more compelling case for insurance plans and payers to include certain drugs on a formulary.

“The changes in pharma marketing are similar to those within healthcare as a whole,” says Paul Harney, director of Monitor Deloitte, the strategy arm of Deloitte, a research consultancy based in New York. “You’re seeing retail pharmacies cross over into delivering care. You’re seeing some of the big plans and payers purchasing provider networks to delivery care. You’re seeing pharmaceutical companies develop offerings to support patients, and these offerings could include things like monitoring and tracking, and diaries for chronic diseases. All of a sudden, the once-rigid lines between the sectors of health are, like payers, providers and manufacturers, are becoming very [blurred].”

While challenging, the outlook for pharma marketing is exciting. Innovative approaches can accomplish what the old methods cannot. From 2006 to 2014, the Food & Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved an average of 28 novel drugs per year. In 2015, the CDER approved a record-breaking 45 novel drugs. The importance of creative marketing not only for these new drugs, but also for the drugs that are competing in a marketplace in which generics are gaining ground, cannot be overstated. It is time to change course — navigating away from institutional inertia and toward a successful marketing strategy that is:

  • Flexible
  • Targeted
  • Tailored
  • Supportive
  • Educational
  • Value-added

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to payer marketing? Tweet @MMITnetwork to have a conversation and check back later for more payer, provider and pharma perspectives on trends affecting your business.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Market Access, Payer, Branding & Marketing